The African Forum on Religion and Government (AFReG) calls on all Christians to increase our prayers as a faith community dialoguing on issues that contribute to “Africans Arising Together in the 21st Century.” This week, Tuesday, December 8, 2020, our theme is “Self-control.”
Galatians 5:22-23 says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
How is self-control generally defined, and how is manifesting the fruit of self-control displayed as Christians?
One definition of self-control describes it as “restraint exercised over our own impulses, emotions, or desires.” Other definitions include command control, mastery, possession, self-censorship, self-containment, self-denial, self-discipline, self-government, self-mastery, will, will-power, composure, self-poise, self-possession.
Proverbs 25:28 describes a person who lacks self-control, like a city whose walls are broken through. If something can break through a wall, the wall is wrecked. The Holy Spirit fruit of self-control is strong and protective, and is only broken if we do not stand firm in what we know we ought to do.
As people of God, we are instructed to have self-control in many spheres of life. For example:
A: Marriage: the scriptures tells married couples to stop depriving each other except by mutual consent, to devote to prayer and come back together quickly; in order that neither one of the couple is tempted by Satan “because of their lack of self-control.” That verse means the couples at the time were depriving each other sexually, and the Apostle Paul gave the only criteria that couples should abstain from marital sex. It is obvious that all sorts of misbehaviours were going on then and now, seen as being tempted by Satan to do what was wrong. The fruit of self-control had to be worked at, so these sorts of sins don’t prevail in Christian marriages.
B: There were specific commands for overseers of the early church, equally applying today. In Acts 20:28 they were instructed to keep watch over themselves and over the flock of which the Holy Spirit had made them overseers. These characteristics show spiritually mature leadership.
In 1Timothy 3:1-2, however, aspiring overseers, were instructed by Paul about the integrity needed for holding that office – above reproach, faithful to his wife, self-controlled, temperate, able to teach, not quarrelsome, respectable, not drunkards, peaceable, not violent, and not a lover of money.
Titus is full of encouragement to be self-controlled. It mentions that elders/overseers, need to be self-controlled (Titus 1:8). Additionally, older men should be taught to be self-controlled (Titus 2:2), older women need to be self-controlled (Titus 2:5), and younger men should be encouraged to be self-controlled (Titus 2:6). He refers to all generations and leaders.
John 15: 7-8, Jesus told His disciples that if they abide in Him, and His words abides in them, they/we will ask what we desire, and it will be done for them/us. By this God is glorified that we bear much fruit, so we will be His disciples. Fruit bearing is very important in God’s kingdom. Abide here means to be stable in our relationship with Christ, remaining in union with Him and in the Word of God.
In the early church of 1 Corinthians 6:12, the Apostle Paul writes “I have the right to do anything, — but not everything is beneficial”. “I have the right to do anything — but I will not be mastered by anything.” That statement equally applies, not just to the today’s church, but also to society as a whole. In the modern world everything goes. “If it feels good, do it,” creeping into the life of today’s Christians and leaders. There is nothing invisible to God, no matter who we are.
Occasionally when we look at and re-assess our life, we might say with the Apostle Paul, “for I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Romans 7:18).
1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us – “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” We thank God for the cross.
Becoming a Christian is not the end of the road. There is help. It is just the beginning of a road of straight lines, twists, turns, changes in direction, resting, trials and temptations. It is laying down our choices and marching on to the tune of the Word of God, and the voice of the Holy Spirit, committing our lives, so we can take up His will and way.
Romans 12:1 — “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.”
There is a prize at the end of our faithful following of Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 We are to: “Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
In the quietness of our heart, we can take a self-control inventory. Is there anything we need to change? The Holy Spirit helps us to walk this life, let us humble ourselves before Him. Ask the Lord to shine His light on anything that is displeasing in our life. We repent; ask for His help to overcome our faults. His power in us allows us to stand strong in the things of God, to walk circumspectly before our God.
- We thank God for His love, kindness and favour.
- We repent of the sin – specific, open or secret – and ask for forgiveness.
- We make a decision not to commit that sin(s) again, therefore changing direction.
- We thank God for His grace, mercy and continued love – in Jesus’ name.
- We can recommit to serve Him in the area(s) we prayed into. Amen